Papers cue cleanup project

City officials on Wednesday submitted documents to the state's natural resources agency, prompting another dredging of Newport Harbor within the next year.

Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller said he submitted applications to take sediment from the Rhine Channel, some of it clean and some toxic, to the Port of Long Beach's expansion project and the rest to a dumping site offshore.

The city could begin dredging the channel by the beginning of 2011, Miller said.

Dredging the Rhine Channel would be the harbor's third dredging in recent years. Currently, the Upper Bay is being dredged of 2.1 million cubic yards to help restore the ecosystem there.

The project should be completed by the end of the year and will have taken four years to complete, he said.

The Army Corps of Engineers is also dredging the Lower Bay of 1.5 million cubic yards. Though it's a federal project, Newport Beach is responsible for disposing of the sediment. Miller submitted an application to the port of Long Beach to dump 700,000 cubic yards of the sediment there, with the rest slated to go offshore.

The port will probably take a couple of months to decide if Newport Harbor's sediment will be used for the expansion project.

"We're waiting to hear what they're going to say," Miller said of port officials. "Hopefully they'll accept our material."

If the Port of Long Beach does not use Newport Harbor's hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of toxic sediment from its multiple projects, the city will be left with a few, more expensive options, officials said.

Those include digging holes in the harbor and burying the toxic elements under clean soil, or shipping them off to a landfill somewhere.

Miller hopes the city's near-complete plans for the Rhine Channel dredging and the progress in the Lower Bay project will increase their chances of working with the Port of Long Beach.

"That's unique when comparing our application to the other projects in the area," he said.

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